Survey: Philippe Langlois

10 questions answered by Philippe Langlois

  • artist biography
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    Survey: 10 questions
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    1.
    Question:
    Since a reasonable time, digital media entered the field of art and extended the traditional definition of art through some new , but very essential components.
    Do you think it is like that and if yes, tell me more about these components and how they changed the perception of art?
    Answer:
    Yes, in a subculture (from dead net.art to contemporary online works), there is the notion of a new sense in the relationship with the art piece.
    Also, the digital media helped merge back the art and the techne together in order to go for a more integrated form of art, where the artist is not a concept-only mind but also an active worker, thus changing the perception of the artist himself.

    It changed the perception of malleability of contemporary media too: computers can be massively used to achieve things that would not be feasible without, it’s like the ant farm or the hive. Thus art can appear some places not foreseen, some people consider hacker exploits or viruses “art” and very much like them from a aesthetic point of view, with good reasons to be said.

    It’s also interesting to see that digital media gives room for bugs, thus creating buffer zones important for our development of experiments and ideas.

    In the main art culture, digital media art changed fewer things due threat to the pyramidal power structure of the art market. In such world, digital media art, especially the online form, is a problem linked with the creation of scarcity vs. unlimited reproduction.

    2.
    Question:
    A relevant section of digital art represents Internet based art. The Internet was hardly existing, but artists conquered already this new field for their artistic activities.
    Can the work of these early artists be compared with those who work with advanced technologies nowadays? What changed until these days ? What might be the perspectives for future developments?
    Answer:
    It’s an evolutive world. So Yes, they can be compared (if you wish to distinguish net.art with contemporary art), but what evolved is that the alien nature of the net was appropriated and integrated into our minds, thus making it only a tool for a new form of space.
    Future developments will be still about sculpting that new space, but with more consciousness of doing so.
    Such as, knowing the social space created by social networks (flickr, orkut, msn, …), the information space created by information spreading platforms (web with YES MEN, gatt.org or bolkestein-inc.com, p2p with XLRMX “Propaganda!”), the communication space (chats with placard.org, flash video rooms with SelfWorld cf. XLRMX.org too).

    3.
    Question:
    The education in the field of New Media art, including Internet based art, started late compared with the general speed of technological development and acceptance.
    So, generations of artists who used the Internet as their artistic working field were not educated in this new discipline(s) and technologies, but had rather an interdisciplinary approach.
    What Do you think, would be the best way to teach young people how to deal with the Internet as an environment of art?
    Answer:
    The best way for kids to play is to have playgrounds. Playgrounds, mean, really, “ok! do whatever you like”.
    This place (net) is becoming less and less such because of regulation, power struggles, censorship & all.
    Trying to keep expression room is the best way to give incentive for the new players.
    They will find themselves on the net plenty of projects to have fun with (processing.org, pure data, or even real computer related stuff such as python and ruby interfaced with technologies). If you keep the world open and talkative, they will keep coming and play.

    4.
    Question:
    What kind of meaning have the new technologies and the Internet to you in concern of art, are they just tools for expressing artistic intentions, or have they rather an ideological character, as it can be found with many “netartists”, or what else do they mean to you?
    Many “Internet based artists” work on “engaged” themes and subjects, for instance, in social, political, cultural etc concern.
    Which contents are you particularly interested in, personally and from an artcritical point of view.
    Answer:
    First net artists were the hackers, subverting the system and using it to express fun or sad things. There’s a touch to this expression, no question there for me. But it’s not necessarily mandatory to have a critical viewpoint in order to use this as an artistic space.
    Maybe what we simply have here is more freedom so dissent can be expressed. Mix in the art market and you’ll see that this sometime radical position will be tamed. I don’t judge it, but definitely foresee it.

    5.
    Question:
    The term “netart” is widely used for anything posted on the net, there are dozens of definitions which mostly are even contradictory.
    How do you define “netart” or if you like the description “Internet based art” better?
    Do you think “netart” is art, at all, if yes, what are the criteria?
    Are there any aesthetic criteria for an Internet based artwork?
    Answer:
    net.art is to me a movement as much as abstract expressionism or surrealism is a movement. Born roughly in 1993 and died around 1997 or so. Online art is a more common and integrated approach.
    The criteria are different for everybody, which keeps this issue vague and undefined. I would definitely call things such as eMule or Soulseek or ICQ/Messenger art pieces for plenty of reason. Some people will call them tools. Some will see the interpersonal relationship space there.
    The aesthetic criteria depends on the viewer, for me, there’s one, definitely,
    cf. http://www.xlrmx.org/wiki/index.php/PhilippeLanglois/CodeBeauty

    6.
    Question:“Art on the net” has the advantage and the disadvantage to be located on the virtual space in Internet which defines also its right to exist.
    Do you think, that “art based on the Internet”, can be called still like that, even if it is just used offline?
    Answer:
    Sure! Actually, the net is going far beyond connected-IP internet. CodeBeauty is an example, it’s offline (printed) and still Internet, same this with “Id!”.

    cf. http://www.xlrmx.org/wiki/index.php/Id/Manifesto
    and http://www.xlrmx.org/wiki/index.php/Id/Documentation

    7.
    Question:
    Dealing with this new, and interactive type of art demands an active viewer or user, and needs the audience much more and in different ways than any other art discipline before. How do you think would be good ways to stimulate the user to dive into this new world of art?
    What do you think represents an appropriate environment to present net based art to an audience, is it the context of the lonesome user sitting in front of his personal computer, is it any public context, or is it rather the context of art in general or media art in particular, or anything else.?
    If you would be in the position to create an environment for presenting this type of art in physical space, how would you do it?
    Answer:
    Stimulate? Well, what do you mean, do you want to pay the user ;-)
    Good art pieces stimulate the user very well indeed. What we can say at the very least is that not all the online art installation are really working. When I say working is: meaningful, attractive, easy to use or apprehend, rewarding.

    Any form is good to present to the public, the more direct, the more ubiquitous, the better.

    The physical space for such presentation space for me would be modular and integrated: any kind of technology, everywhere, but that could be hidden from the view of the visitor / user.

    8.
    Question:
    As Internet based art, as well as other art forms using new technologies are (globally seen) still not widely accepted, yet, as serious art forms, what do you think could be an appropriate solution to change this situation?
    Answer:
    Does it need to be changed? The appropriate solution to me is to keep on working on some projects that are net-related and some that are not, trying to make really good works. All works are not equal in impact. Let the society evolve in the background to be able to grasp it. This is indeed something really related to our media: the temporality of the net and of the digital is very different than the temporality of the IRL world.

    9.
    Question:
    The Internet is sometimes called a kind of “democratic” environment,
    The conventional art practice is anything else than that, but selective by using filters of different kind.
    The audience is mostly only able to make up its mind on second hand. Art on the net might potentially be different. Do you think the current practice of dealing with Internet based art is such different or rather the described conventional way through (also curatorial) filtering?
    Do you think, that speaking in the terms of Joseph Beuys, anybody who publishes anything on the net would be also an artist?
    Answer:
    Definitely agree with your Beuys reference. (Could be as well based on Duchamp, anybody who publishes anything on the net and calls it art is an online artist). cf. http://www.bolkestein-inc.com
    That doesn’t prevent, the curatorial approach, on the opposite IMHO.
    Selection and filtering is important, and these people usually come with the market.

    10.
    Question:
    Do you think, the curators dealing with net based art should have any technological knowledge in order to understand such an art work from its roots? And what about the users of Internet based art?
    Answer:
    Well… I think it can go two ways:

    – conceptual online art:
    You definitely need to understand how why and what to understand the art, and this needs then a curator who “digs” into the ontological guts of the work as well as the technical part.

    – generally perceived online art:
    The curator can be anyone as the effect and strength of the piece is sufficient to judge.
    This opens up much more the field of online art, enabling one to call art something that was not in the first place (p2p, messenger, streaming) but then pose a threat to the status of the curator.